Desktop penguins

Maybe it's coincidence; maybe it's just fate. I spent much of the last two weeks examining many of the latest products and projects that work toward a viable Linux office desktop. So, naturally, what crosses my desk but a document from otherwise intelligent people proclaiming that Linux has a long way to go before it can stand as a corporate desktop system.

Bunk. Pure bunk.

Some people say Linux is not ready for the corporate desktop because it does not have a specific program employed by their organization. Although that may be a reason not to deploy Linux in that particular business, it is hardly reason for discounting Linux for all businesses.

Old information is another reason some claim that Linux is not ready for the corporate desktop. The fact is that the Linux desktop has come a long way in the past year (even the past six months!) but most people don't realize it.

Take, for example, CrossOver Office. Here you have the capability to run MS Office, Outlook, and Internet Explorer on Linux. And while I would wait for the next minor patch release before rollout, I suspect that it will be ready for prime time within the next quarter.

For those trying to wean themselves off Microsoft Corp. products, there are some excellent alternatives. By the way, if you don't understand why some organizations are doing that, I suggest you ask the school district in Portland. In April, The Oregonian reported that Microsoft ordered the district to submit proof of licensing its 25,000 computers within 60 days or face the consequences. Of course, the financially strapped school district could just pay an estimated US$500,000 for a sitewide license to make Microsoft go away, but to do so might mean eliminating several teaching positions. It's no wonder why some organizations are evaluating options.

And there are plenty of options to be had. For standard office functions, StarOffice, OpenOffice, and Hancom Office all have a lot to offer, each with a look and feel similar to what most office workers are already using. For e-mail, Evolution and Bynari's InsightClient have excellent functionality that gives Outlook a run for its money.

But what if you already have an extensive investment in Exchange? No problem. Take a look at Ximian Connector V1.0, which works well at bridging the gap between Exchange Server and Ximian's Evolution client.

Looking for an Exchange Server equivalent? Either Bynari's InsightConnector or Caldera's Volution Messaging Server could fit the bill. Of course, there are always the standard open-source programs, such as Sendmail and Imapd for folks who want to save money and roll their own.

So if someone tells you Linux isn't ready for the office desktop, ask them to make sure their facts are current. Or, if they happen to be a vendor, check their product line. They may have a lot to lose if you realize that you have choices.

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